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Concert Masterworks

Concert Masterworks

Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances

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Concert Masterworks

Course No. 710
Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
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Course No. 710
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is not heavily illustrated, but it does feature on-screen WordScore diagrams and visual devices that the professor has created, making it unnecessary to read sheet music to follow the material. Portraits of Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak, Strauss, Brahms, and the other composers studied also illustrate the lectures.
Audio Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

Have you ever wondered what goes through a composer's mind during those magical weeks and months when a musical composition—something meant to become a listening experience—is being notated on paper? Have you tried to imagine the creative process that boils inside geniuses like Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorák, Strauss, Brahms, Mendelssohn, or Liszt? Or within any composer?

  • Is it pure inspiration?
  • Does a composer hear the music first, before even picking up a pen?
  • Or does the music, in fact, actually begin on that blank sheet of staff paper?

Most important, can lay listeners like us, untrained in the technicalities of music, be taught to open our ears to a composer's creative intentions?

Learn the Art of Listening to Great Music

Can we learn the art of listening, so that great music becomes an even more insightful and pleasurable experience for us?

Dr. Robert Greenberg believes the answer to that last question is "yes."

And now this winner of three Nicola De Lorenzo Prizes in composition, whose music courses in several classical genres are among our most popular, has set out to prove his point once again.

He has created a course designed to give you a new level of sophistication as a music listener—using as his teaching tools some of the most memorable works in all of music.

Gain a New Level of Listening Sophistication

The skills you learn in this course will attune you to intricacies of musical purpose, structure, and narrative content that you will be able to perceive in any piece of music.

Though this is a demanding course, with a deeper look into musical structure than untrained listeners are likely to have experienced, it is not an intimidating one.

Professor Greenberg vividly positions each composition and its composer in the social and musical fabric of its time, so you can understand the music in its proper societal and artistic context.

His descriptions are vivid, evoking dramatic images of:

  • The precocities of young Mozart
  • Beethoven's progress toward his "Heroic" style, as his inner tendencies exaggerated by the turbulent times he lived in
  • The profound sense of caution ingrained in Brahms by his solid middle-class background, and how this influenced his choices of what to publish.

Throughout these lectures, Professor Greenberg includes fascinating details of the musical world in which each composer worked.

Learn Beethoven's Advantage over His Predecessors

You learn, for example:

  • How the piano developed, and how design advances gave Beethoven a profound advantage over his harpsichord-trained predecessors
  • how the 19th-century cult of the individual artist as hero led to the rise of virtuoso superstars such as the legendary Italian violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini, who revolutionized the art of violin playing and inspired Liszt to become a piano virtuoso second to none
  • how the folk elements used by nationalist composers became part of the shared, common language of concert music, so Dvorák could feel perfectly comfortable using "American" elements in his Symphony no. 9, the New World Symphony, examined in this course.

The core of the course is its superb structural examination of eight of the most brilliant pieces of music ever written, with Professor Greenberg grouping the composers and their compositions into four pairs, each designed to clarify different aspects of music for you.

Part I: The Classical Piano Concerto features:

  • Mozart—Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, K. 503 (1786)
  • Beethoven—Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, the Emperor Concerto (1809).

The emphasis of these lectures is on the musical substance of the concerti themselves—their formal structure, thematic relationships, expressive content, and the role of the piano soloist.

Part II: Nationalism and Expressionism in the Late 19th Century features:

  • Antonín Dvorák—Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony(1893)
  • Richard Strauss—Death and Transfiguration (1889).

Here Professor Greenberg focuses on Dvorák's structural use of conflicting keys to reflect conflicting themes, and on Strauss's tone poem as an example of a "through-composed piece," in which the motives and themes grow out of material that has preceded them.

Part III: Great 19th-Century Violin Concerti features:

  • Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61 (1806)
  • Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77 (1878).

In comparing these two works—the "backbone of the 19th-century violin concerto repertoire"—Professor Greenberg shows how the work of Beethoven, trained in the structures and techniques of 18th-century Classicism, and Brahms, the 19th-century Romantic, so clearly reflect characteristics of the other.

Part IV: Early Romantic-Era Program Music features:

  • Felix Mendelssohn—Incidental Music, op. 61 (1842) and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21 (1826)
  • Franz Liszt—Totentanz (1849).

Here, Professor Greenberg compares Mendelssohn's brilliant and endearing interpretation of Shakespeare's comedy with Liszt's virtuosic example of the Romantic era's fascination with the Gothic and the macabre in his work based on the 14th-century Black Death.

Experience Deep Structural UnderstandingStudying musical composition in this way is an opportunity to penetrate more deeply into the structure of a piece than you've ever done before.

Professor Greenberg likens the experience to understanding great works of architecture. We can see their surfaces and even be moved by their beauty, but unless we are taught to see and comprehend them in our minds, our eyes will be blind to their richest glories:

  • Their construction
  • Their ingenious blending of purpose and technique
  • Their philosophical force.
Learn to perceive most of the aesthetic, structural, expressive, and narrative information a composer builds into a piece of music, dramatically changing your listening experience.

The result? The music you listen to becomes more vivid, life enhancing, exciting, visceral, and altogether compelling.

See New Ways to Plumb Music's Depths

These lectures give you the tools of vocabulary and the structural fundamentals most of us, no matter how much we love music, have never acquired—even if you've taken "music appreciation" or learned to play an instrument at a basic level.

Even more important, you gain a knowledge of the structural conventions original audiences took for granted, allowing you to share the musical experiences those audiences had when they were surprised or challenged by a composer's departure from those conventions.

To ensure you get the most from the lectures, the explorations of each of the masterpieces analyzed are made up of three components:

  • Background: the life, times, personality, and musical stylistic assumptions of the composer under study
  • An extensive examination of the work under study, analyzing its form, themes, thematic relationships, expressive content, and more
  • The WordScore Guide—a unique visual device that allows you to follow the musical narrative as it unfolds before you, even if you can't read a note of music.

With the tools provided by this course, you can understand a composer's surrender to the status quo ... or his defiance of it. And you'll be able to experience, as those first audiences did, the music's full intellectual and expressive impact.

Hide Full Description
32 lectures
 |  46 minutes each
Year Released: 1995
  • 1
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, I
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 2
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, II
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 3
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, III
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 4
    Mozart—Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, IV
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 5
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, I
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 6
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, II
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 7
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, III
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 8
    Beethoven—Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, IV
    In Lectures 1-8, Professor Robert Greenberg discusses Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C Major, written in 1786; and Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73, of 1809: the Emperor Concerto. x
  • 9
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, I
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 10
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, II
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 11
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, III
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 12
    Dvorák—Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, IV
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 13
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, I
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 14
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, II
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 15
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, III
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 16
    Strauss—Death and Transfiguration, IV
    In Lectures 9-16, the featured works are Antonin Dvorak's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, the New World Symphony, of 1893; and Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, written in 1889. x
  • 17
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, I
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 18
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, II
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 19
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, III
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 20
    Beethoven—Violin Concerto in D Major, IV
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 21
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, I
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 22
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, II
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 23
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, III
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 24
    Brahms—Violin Concerto in D Major, IV
    In Lectures 17-24 the two masterworks described are Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 61, of 1806; and Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 77, of 1878. x
  • 25
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, I
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 26
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, II
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 27
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, III
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 28
    Mendelssohn—Incidental Music and Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, IV
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 29
    Liszt—Totentanz, I
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 30
    Liszt—Totentanz, II
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 31
    Liszt—Totentanz, III
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x
  • 32
    Liszt—Totentanz, IV
    In Lectures 25-32 you will learn about three masterworks: Medelssohn's Incidental Music, op. 61 of 1842; his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21, of 1826; and Franz Liszt's Totentanz of 1849. x

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  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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  • 232-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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  • 32 lectures on 32 CDs
  • 232-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

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  • 232-page printed course guidebook
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  • Biographical notes

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Your professor

Robert Greenberg

About Your Professor

Robert Greenberg, Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
Dr. Robert Greenberg is Music Historian-in-Residence with San Francisco Performances. A graduate of Princeton University, Professor Greenberg holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California, Berkeley. He has seen his compositions—which include more than 45 works for a wide variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles—performed all over the world, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles,...
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Reviews

Rated 4.6 out of 5 by 29 reviewers.
Rated 4 out of 5 by Hang On, My Friends I begin by stating that Robert Greenberg (which, amusingly, he translates elsewhere in Italian as "Monteverdi") is preternaturally gifted. It is also difficult for a professor to maintain such a high level of audio and video work product over a span of well over twenty years. It is almost like you can divide him up into early, middle and late Greenberg (although I trust we are not too far into the latter as yet). Styles change, and he has also evolved, but his early period, where this course rests, is already able to stand the test of time. Now to this course. I have a fair amount of musical training, both vocal and instrumental, history and theory, and have a natural ear for music. For me, therefore, the deep detail and nuance of Professor Greenberg's analyses, along with his very innovative WordScore Guides, are extremely helpful and gratifying. I say this despite the fact that, in order for each of his compositions here to take up four lectures, there is some biographical filler that sometimes is excessive. The major difficulty I had in giving him five stars across the board was that I must assume that many listeners and viewers of this course, even those reviewers who profess to love the deep analysis, are really fighting above their weight in really being able to understand much of the theory and structure of Greenberg's approach. The fact that I was able to keep up, while listening and watching closely, convinces me that many listeners cannot. It is for this reason that I put myself in their shoes by giving only 4 stars to course value. This is not meant to sound "holier than thou," although some who read this will think exactly that. I merely bring this up as a slight caution to those who, through absolutely no fault of their own, will surely struggle (and, perhaps, be slightly discouraged) by the many-layered analyses they face. It is not that this course is in any way misrepresented; it is not. A beginner in music can surely appreciate biographical information on a composer and his times (although, as another reviewer has pointed out, this is better done in the individual composers' "Great Masters" series). I say only that this course cannot be undertaken when any distractions are present. While the WordScore Guides are replicated in the course booklets, this is not a course to be taken when you are driving, cooking or mowing the lawn. It is video or nothing, in my view. That means that you need to take that 30 minutes per lecture and make sure it is the most important thing in your life for that half hour. Too much is lost otherwise. So give Greenberg a chance to teach as only he can. April 1, 2016
Rated 4 out of 5 by Greenberg Does it Better, Later--Still Very Fine Audio download version As has been pointed out by other reviewers, this course is really a compilation of four other, earlier courses, where professor Greenberg takes two similar musical works and compares and contrasts them, going into some depth as to the music, the composer and the times that influenced both. This format allows Dr. Greenberg to examine eight musical works and seven composers (Beethoven gets two works) in some considerable depth. And herein lies my only problem. Other courses by professor Greenberg often cover much of the same information. While realizing that each course needs to be able to be listened to in a "stand-alone" fashion, he covers the idea that music is a mirror of the times with a far better explanation in the course "How to Listen to and Understand Great Music". And he covers the life and times of each composer in a more complete and enjoyable fashion in his "Great Masters" series. On the other, enjoyable hand, Dr. Greenberg does not cover works that I have heard him cover in any depth before, so listening to him explain, for example, "Totentanz" in some considerable detail was very instructive and rewarding. To that end, Dr. Greenberg includes in the course guidebook, a "Word Score" for each piece. Unlike at least one other reviewer, I found the word scores to be very helpful in being able to follow the musical concepts put forth by professor Greenberg. Although I can read music, the written explanations that accompanied the few bars of notated music added very much to my understanding of the music. Recommended for the detailed examination of the eight musical works, but much of the other material is presented in a more detailed manner in Dr. Greenberg's other courses. March 7, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Another course, another joy from Prof. Greenberg I've enjoyed all of Prof. Greenberg's courses very much, and this one is no exception. He covers in detail works that are some of my all-time favorites and that I know very well (such as Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto and Beethoven's Violin Concerto). I learned a lot about these compositions. And he covers works that I had heard once or twice but really did not ever appreciate or understand - and now I do. As always, Greenberg is a superb lecturer, passionate, engaging and entertaining. He focuses here on the music, without going into excessive detail on fine points of music theory, so the course is totally accessible to someone like me who loves classical music but can't read music or play an instrument. Greenberg also weaves in biographical highlights of the composers, but the focus is on the selected pieces. October 12, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by 8 Mini Courses I enjoy Greenberg's courses. He is wonderfully entertaining and a great teacher. This course almost seems like eight 4-lecture courses that have been grouped together into one 32-lecture course. There was too much repetition of the beginning of Beethoven's 5th. So, that downgraded the course a bit. I understand that picking the 8 works to present is very subjective and completely up to Greenberg. However, I just didn't see how the last piece, Totentanz, fit with the other seven. Were the other seven the pinnacle of each composer's repertoire? Perhaps not. But, to an amateur listener like me, they were all great pieces. Totentanz, on the other hand, seemed pretty lame. To me, it just didn't measure up. So, that downgraded the course as well. I do appreciate the time he takes in each lecture to present details on the life and times of the composers. This not only satisfies my curiosity about them, but it helps put the piece of music in its place in history. I've got the video version of this course and, even though I can read music, I appreciated his following along on the word score on the black board. It makes it much easier for me to follow and, more importantly, understand the points he is making. While it is true that the quality of music from the tape recorder wasn't great, I watched this course to learn about the music and not for a concert-quality experience from my television. Honestly, the sound quality didn't bother me at all. The quality was more than sufficient to understand the points Greenberg was trying to make. After all, it is for the points Greenberg makes that one watches this course. January 29, 2015
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